Macey Smith is a senior from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, graduating in March 2021. She’s studying management consulting and has completed a thesis on nonvisible disabilities in the workplace.
Why did you choose to come to DU?
I never thought I would go to DU, but I heard that DU offered good scholarships for single moms. So I applied, received a scholarship, and decided to leave my job and go back to school because it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Why did you choose management as a major?
I wanted to major in accounting or business information and analytics, but I found that management was a good match for me at the end of the day. The professors in the Department of Management made me feel seen and heard and helped me with my learning disabilities.
What is your favorite management class you’ve taken?
Professor Bud Bilanich’s Business for the Public Good class. I shared with the professor how I had been struggling with bipolar disorder and he wrote back about how we could make the class work for me. He accommodated me and I wrote a 20-page essay that counted towards the course. The essay was on nonvisible disabilities in the workplace. A good class is all about the people and the relationships built in the class. Because of this, I turned my essay into a thesis with Professor Bilanich as my faculty advisor.
What careers are you interested in?
In the future, I want to work in consulting but first, I’d like to work in human resources for a few years. I want a job where I don’t have to travel as much, so I can have more time to be with my son. My goal is to work in human resources for five years and then go back to get my master’s in organizational psychology and later go into consulting.
How do you think the management major/department has helped you prepare for your future/career aspirations?
The professors in the Department of Management would reach out to me about my learning disability and ask how they could help me and would acknowledge my disability, which made the department feel like the right place for me. The professors and the department helped me realize I should not be ashamed of my disabilities, and that I want to find a company in the future that acknowledges and helps me with my disabilities in this same way. They were personable and showed me that everyone is unique and not just another number.
What is your thesis about?
My thesis acknowledges the diversity of people with nonvisible disabilities within organizations. In my thesis, I talk about nonvisible disabilities, define them and use secondary research to build a conceptual framework around best practices for people with disabilities within an organization. My thesis title is “A Conceptual Model of Employment That Acknowledges the Heterogeneity and Benefits of Students Living With Nonvisible Disabilities.” My thesis incorporates the 4D experience at DU to make the information relevant to the student experience.
I wanted to write a thesis, but I never knew what to write about until I took the Business for the Public Good class with professor Bilanich. After this class, I was inspired to write about nonvisible disabilities. Additionally, as a person living with nonvisible disabilities, I was drawn to this topic. Usually you have a year to write a thesis but I wrote mine in five months using secondary data from the library’s databases.
Writing my thesis was an awesome experience because it gave me something to specialize in and helped me understand how I can be successful when I enter the workforce. The takeaway from the thesis is that even though you cannot see every disability, it doesn’t mean people aren’t struggling with something, and it’s important to have compassion. It also goes back to diversity and how the things that make us different can actually have many advantages within a team. Also, by being vulnerable and open about my own disabilities, I will hopefully inspire others to be vulnerable as well.